La Rosa Nautica, Lima
Lima is a bustling and diverse city located on the Pacific coast of Peru. Originally called the ‘City of Kings,’ Lima was the colonial capital of the region. Strongly influenced by European, Andean and Asian cultures, Lima is a melting pot of cultures as a result of colonization, immigration and indigenous influences. Lima is home to prestigious, world-renowned museums, housing some the best collections of post and pre-Columbian art and artifacts in the world. The Historic Center of Lima was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
With a population of more than 7.6 million people, Lima is home to a third of the population of Peru. The people are warm, friendly and very proud of their city. The distinctly different districts and neighborhoods of the city combine the old with the new to create an interesting mix of cultures, architecture and people. There are various parks in downtown Lima as well as churches and historic houses to visit. Lima is also known as Gastronomical Capital of the Americas, and you will have a chance to sample some of its specialties at the beautiful waterfront restaurant La Rosa Nautica on night two. Vibrant, culturally diverse Lima is the perfect place to start your Peruvian travel adventure.
In the town of Ollantaytambo, you will find the best surviving example of Inca town planning. Ollantaytambo dates from the late 15th century and has some of the oldest continuously occupied dwellings in South America. Many of the building foundations in old town and the majority of the Inca canchas, or blocks, are still intact. Because of its strategic location in the Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo became a prime center within the Inca Empire. It was generally reserved for the elite, and the Ollantaytambo Fortress was first a place of worship as well as a location for studying astronomy. The Ollantaytambo Fortress is just on the outskirts of the old town, and among the ruins that are the most visually spectacular are the rising terrace walls, that served as an integral means of defense.
Spared the plundering of the Spanish conquest that destroyed most other Incan sites, Machu Picchu is unique, both in its dramatic mountaintop setting and in its excellent state of preservation. Remaining hidden for centuries until it was found by an American explorer in 1911, the “lost” city of Machu Picchu was a secret treasure to the locals for centuries.
A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983, the Lost City of the Incas receives visitors from around the world, drawn by the citadel’s staggering beauty. Within Machu Picchu itself are a number of specific treasures, such as the Intihuatana stone, which points towards the sun at the winter solstice and may have acted as an astronomical calendar, as well as the Temple of the Sun and the Room of Three Windows, both of which were devoted to the most important figure in Incan religion, the sun god Inti.
The Fortress at Pisac
In Pisac you will have the opportunity to visit the lively local market and to enjoy the beautiful handicrafts and fine Andean garments for sale. For lunch you will have the chance to try out traditional Andean foods at the Royal Inka Pisac Hotel. You will also get to explore the amazing Pisac ruins, on a hillside high above the town. Walking paths above the terraced walls offer incredible views over the site and the valley below. At the top is a ceremonial center with temples and baths.
Beautiful Cuzco (also spelled Cusco), once the foremost city of the Inca empire, is now considered the archaeological capital of the Americas, as well as the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city. Cuzco will dazzle you with its mix of Spanish colonial and Inca architecture and its picturesque location. When the Spaniards conquered Cuzco in the 16th century, they preserved the basic structure but built Baroque churches and palaces over the ruins of the Inca city. The city itself is like an outdoor museum, reflecting hundreds of years of history. Massive Inca-built walls line steep, narrow cobblestone streets and form the foundations of modern buildings. Cuzco is known for its colorful textiles - evident in the traditional clothing worn by the local indigenous population - its ancient treasures found in its colonial mansions and churches, and its vibrant nightlife.